When you start clipping coupons, it doesn't take long to realize that you'll need a way to get organized. Rather than letting the coupons pile up on your kitchen table or in your handbag, you can create an organizational system.
- You can clearly see the coupons.
- The coupons stay organized.
- When shopping quickly, you can immediately locate the coupon you need.
- All your coupon needs are in one spot.
- It costs money to set up.
- Not all coupons fit into the pockets. Some must be trimmed down and folded.
- Extreme couponers quickly fill up the pockets.
Purchasing a Coupon Binder
You will be using your binder a lot, so buying a quality one that can hold up is important. Generally, you can find a good one for under $18, although you can often find them on sale, especially after back-to-school season.
Some people like to use photo albums for binders. This is a good way to start because most albums come with plastic photo pages inside.
Another popular choice is the binder selection found in school supplies departments. Look for the kind that zips all the way open. Select from three to five inch, three-ring binders for ample room.
If you are going with a binder and not a photo album, you will also need to purchase the nine-pocket collectors' baseball card holders to hold your coupons. They look much like the plastic sheet protectors, but they have three pockets across and three down, which is perfect for holding coupons.
When shopping for the holders, try to get the most for your money. Prices can vary, but generally the more pieces per pack, the less the cost per piece. Get the holders that have the notebook holes already punched in. Generally, the baseball card holders can be found at hobby stores, Walmart, Target and on Amazon.com. A good number to start with is around 60 sheets.
Other supplies that you will need include scissors, tab dividers, regular (non-pocketed) sheet protectors (around 50), pens and a calculator. Most of the zippered binders include a zippered pouch to hold your supplies.
Organizing by Category, Date or Alphabetically
You will want to decide on which method to use when setting up your binder.
The Pros and Cons:
- Using the category method is good for people who do not mind spending a little more time organizing coupons and less time finding them at the grocery store. This method also requires fewer dividers and holders.
- The date method is good for people who prefer to organize their coupons quickly, and then take more time sorting when they prepare to go shopping. This method also requires a larger binder because you will be organizing the actual newspaper inserts and not just coupons. This method is also good for people who use online coupon match-up sites because the coupons are listed by product name, newspaper insert or ad name (Red Plum, Smart Source, P&G) and the date of the publication.
- Alphabetizing coupons is a good choice for brand-savvy shoppers. It takes more time to organize, but less time to find coupons when shopping.
- Some couponers use the category and date method together. Although the time spent cutting, sorting and filing may take a bit longer, finding them at the store is a breeze.
Let's Get Started
Now you know the pros and cons of keeping coupons in a binder, so let's get started putting your choice of the binder together.
- Using the Category Method: 1) Decide if you want to separate food from non-food items. This is a good method if you use a lot of coupons at drugstores. If you do separate the two, follow the steps below for each section.
2) Label the tab dividers by category. Some people do this using major categories, like "Dairy, Personal Products" etc., and others use more specific categories, like "Milk, Shampoo," etc.
3) Put at least one pocket holder page behind each category page. Use more for the categories where you have a lot of coupons, such as cleaning and personal care products. You will add more pages as you go along, but this will get you started.
4) Keep a section in the back for store coupon policies.
5) Start sorting your coupons into the appropriate categories.
- Using the Date Method: This system works well if you often get multiple newspapers so that you can get multiple coupons.
1) Separate the ads by Smart Source, Red Plum, Procter and Gamble and Miscellaneous.
2) Using stick-on page dividers, write the name and date of the publication. Example - Smart Source (or SS) 7/24/19 then Red Plum (or RP) 7/24/19.
3) Place the divider onto a plastic sleeve and insert the appropriate ad into the sleeve.
4) Some people keep all of one type together by date -- for example, all the Smart Source ads will be in one section, the Red Plum in another, etc. Other people keep all types by the week, for example, Smart Source, Red Plum, and P&G will be sectioned together for the week of 7/24/19. Either way, it is best to file the most current week's inserts on top.
- The Alphabetized Method: 1) Set up page dividers A - Z.
2) For starters, place an empty baseball holder sheet behind each letter.
3) Alphabetize your coupons into the holders. (Example, Colgate behind the letter C).
Tips and Tricks
- Have an accessory pouch in the back of your binder for coupons and rebates that you find while shopping.
- Use more than one pocket when you have a lot of multiples of the same coupon. This will help prevent the pocket from ripping.
- To help keep your category binder visually appealing, slip colored paper into each pocket so that you cannot see through to the page of coupons behind it.
- If your binder begins to get too full, separate your coupons into two binders -- one for food, one for non-food coupons.
- Purge old coupons on a regular basis.